Ever since Volkswagen did away with the nifty little VW Rabbit pickup truck in the 1980s, the U.S. has been dealing with the lack of a VW pickup truck. It’s an absence that’s felt by many.
Almost four decades is way too long to deprive the U.S. of a finely engineered Volkswagen pickup truck. The rest of the world gets to enjoy VW pickup trucks that can handle both city streets and rugged terrain, and we feel that it’s about time the U.S. joined in on the fun.
The Amarok is VW’s most popular pickup truck, and it would be quite a hit here in the U.S.
A Little Bit About the Amarok
The Amarok is a functional and stylish mid-size pickup truck available in Europe and South America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. A competitor to the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, and Ford Ranger, the Amarok offers a powerful diesel, off-road capable all wheel drive, and quite a bit of towing and payload capacity. The truck earns glowing reviews, and VW fans have practically begged for it.
For a pickup that packs such a punch in all departments, the Amarok is surprisingly affordable. The latest model starts at £30,120 (or nearly $40,000).
So here are 3 good and valid reasons why Volkswagen should consider bringing the Amarok to the U.S.:
1. America Loves Pickups
Americans are buying more and more pickups, while interest in new cars is on the decline. In 2018, nearly 7 out of 10 new vehicles sold was a truck or SUV. While VW has a couple of SUVs for sale in the U.S., they’ve got exactly zero pickup trucks.
Considering VW is one of the world’s largest automakers (if not THE largest – it depends on how some vehicles sold in China are counted), it’s incredible to think that VW doesn’t offer a pickup truck in the world’s largest pickup truck market.
2. The Amarok is Available Next Door
Did you know that VW sells their cool pickups to our next door neighbor? Assuming you can see over the big beautiful wall that separates the U.S. and Mexico (or at least the wall that will separate the countries just as soon as Mexico mails the check), you can look into Tijuana, Mexicali, Nogales, Juarez, et al and see Amaroks driving around. While it’s admittedly difficult and expensive to prepare an existing vehicle for sale in the U.S. (the fancy word for this is ‘homologation’), it’s not as if VW doesn’t have the wherewithal to sell their trucks in the U.S. They’re available for sale in our backyard already.
3. Competition is Good for Truck Buyers
When you look back at the last 30 years of pickup truck development in the U.S., it’s hard not to get a little misty eyed. After all, a typical new truck you’d buy in 1989 is nothing like a typical new truck you’d buy today. We’ve got more safety features, more payload, more towing, more horsepower and torque, more room, better ride and handling, more features, better fuel economy, and better overall off-road ability.
The main reason we’ve seen all these improvements is competition. Ford, Chrysler/Ram, GM, Toyota, Nissan, and even Honda have all done their best (with varying degrees of success) to raise the bar. Adding Volkswagen into the mix of companies competing for our dollars is only going to make the evolution of pickup trucks better.
Two Good Alternatives to the Amarok
If for some reason Volkswagen is not too keen on the idea of bringing the Amarok stateside, they can still consider doing so with two other pickup trucks: the Saveiro and their concept truck called the Tanoak.
The Saveiro is an honest-to-goodness compact truck. Based on the VW Golf, the Saviero has a 1,500-pound payload rating and is available for as little as $11,000. At that price, it’s hard to think the little Saveiro wouldn’t find at least a few fans in the USA.
Volkswagen rolled out the beefy Tanoak concept truck at the NYIAS in 2017. Based on a stretched version of the VW Atlas SUV platform, the Tanoak had all the goodies that mid-size truck buyers would expect: an aggressive front end, a torquey V6, a clever all wheel drive system with off-road chops, and a comfortable interior with lots of room for big bodies.
In a Nutshell
VW is late to the pickup truck party in the U.S., and it’s hard to understand why. They make good trucks, they sell these trucks around the world, and it’s all but certain that tens of thousands of U.S. truck buyers would opt for an Amarok, Saveiro, Tanoak, or whatever VW wants to call a U.S. spec truck. Here’s to hoping they get on the stick and offer one.
This is a guest post by Jason Lancaster, an auto industry critic who works as a consultant at Spork Marketing. Jason is a fan of Pickup Truck + SUV Talk and grateful for the opportunity to contribute.